Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Can you tell our readers who you are and what you do in Ill Nino?
– I am Dave Chavarri, Founder, Drummer & manager for Latin Metal band ILL NINO.
What was your first experience of rock and metal music?
– I was first introduced to Metal/Hard Rock music at age 16, and fell in love with it. I first listened to bands like Accept, Scorpions, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, etc. My first concert was Iron Maiden and Queensryche at Radio City Music Hall in New York, I was 17.
What was it that made you want to be a drummer?
– I tried playing the bass at first, but it was boring as hell, so I started playing drums at age 17 (kinda late in the game) but I was obsessed with drums, even though my mom did not want me to be a musician, and would of rather I went to college. I have been very fortunate in my 29 year career, and I am thankful EVERY DAY. I was signed to Torrid/Epic records when I was barely 18, and had not even had graduated high school.
When and how did Ill Nino first form?
–We formed in 1998 as El Nino, a hardcore band with a different singer that was brutally heavy and without much melody. But actually ILL NINO was born in 2000, when I returned from playing drums for Soulfly, and I was looking to form a different type of metal band, a band that would be different than anything I had done in my career.
When Ill Nino first formed you guys were doing something unknown to the metal scene at the time, combining elements of NU metal with Latin music. Why did you choose to go down this path, and what has made you stick to the sound?
– The decision of combining metal and Latin music came about when I returned from playing drums for Soulfly, and I was looking to fuse Latin percussion with ethnic tones of some sort, and actual melody and singing. I’m not gonna lie, our sound came about from tons of experimenting, jamming, and partly from not knowing what the fuck we were doing, ha ha ha.
In the past few years you have had bands such as Breed 77, Fhobi and Nonpoint emerging on the scene with a similar sound to you guys. How does it feel to have influenced the “new breed” of heavy metal music?
– We are actually very flattered that we have influenced many upcoming Latin Metal and Latin Rock bands. But I personally was very influenced by the Latin Rock pioneers PUYA. Their cool and slick joining of Afro-Cuban beats and Latin elements and heavy rock was intoxicating to me. But within ILL NINO’s sound, I wanted to take it to another level of heaviness, bilingual lyrics, and brutal tribal percussion, which is something I felt we needed to introduce to today’s music.
You are on the verge of releasing your new album ‘Till Death La Familia’. Was there any one main song writer on this album or was it a team collaboration?
– It was 1,000% a team collaboration! Everyone in this band has their place, and is an essential band of the puzzle, that makes ILL NINO who we are.
On ‘Epidemia’ back in 2012, you did a collaboration with Frankie from Emmure on one of your tracks. Would you say this was an attempt to win over the more younger generation of metal head?
– Actually No. There’s a few reasons that the collaboration happened, for one, I was listening EMMURE a lot, and was rapidly becoming a fan. At the same time, I was speaking with Victory Records label owner Tony Brummel, and he had informed me that Frankie Palmeri was a huge ILL NINO fan, so putting it all together was a no-brainer.
Like quite a few metal bands in the 21st Century, Ill Nino have started to add electronic elements into their music which can be heard in songs such as ‘Live Like There’s No Tomorrow’ and ‘Not Alive in My Nightmare’. Why did you decide to adopt this sound on the new record?
–ILL NINO has been using electronic elements since our debut Revolution, Revolucion, this is definitely not a new element to us. “I Am Loco” is a track that is comprised of tons of sampling and programming. If you listen close, we have a fair amount of programming and keys throughout all 7 releases.
Apart from this, how else would you say ‘Till Death, La Familia’ is different to previous Ill Nino releases?
– Till Death, La Familia is a modern, ballsy ILL NINO…. A release that contains all the key elements of which makes up who ILL NINO is, but with a rejuvenated sound and attack!!
So you have the release of the album on the 22nd of July. What else does the rest of 2014 hold for Ill Nino?
– ILL NINO just wrapped up 6 weeks of playing the Mayhem Festival, which is the biggest U.S. Metal Festival. And now following we are scheduled for tons of touring, South America, Mexico, Russia, Europe, UK, and more U.S. dates all before 2014 is up. We do not slow down!!!
What is your favourite new Ill Nino song and your favourite classic Ill Nino song to play live and why?
–This is something I cannot answer, it is like having 30 kids and asking which of your children is your favourite. I love them all, there’s a piece of me in every ILL NINO song!!!
If you could be in a supergroup with you on drums. Who else would be in the band and what would you call it?
–Freddy Mercury on vocals, Steve Vai on guitar, and Geddy Lee on bass. And I would call the band “3 White Dudes And 1 Brown Dude” ha ha!!!